The two day conference was organised by the UK Plant Sciences Federation and the Society of Biology.
McIntyre, who serves on the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament, chaired the keynote panel debate on ‘Building a Roadmap for UK Plant Science’. The panel discussed how to inspire a new generation of plant scientists and ensure that education and training meets the needs of industry and employers, how to enable effective translation of plant science research into applications, how to facilitate the creation of regulatory frameworks that are evidence- and risk-based, transparent and enabling of innovation and how to increase investment in plant science and create a stable funding strategy in the long-term.
She said: "Plant science is absolutely central to the challenges facing the 21st century and UK plant sciences in particular are well positioned to respond to these challenges. The UK is internationally recognised for its excellence in this field, but given the magnitude of the challenges we face there is now a pressing need to drive a step change in the benefits that plant sciences can offer society and the environment.
"We need to ensure food security for a growing world population but this can only be achieved if more research is translated into innovative solutions. Not enough research is commercialised. We must improve the translation of research into practice from the lab to the farm and through the whole of the food supply chain. We should do this, firstly, by rebuilding the connection between basic research and applied science, and, secondly, by better integrating the science base with the food and farming sectors as a whole. This, I believe, will allow us to unlock a new phase in agricultural innovation.
"We also need a regulatory framework that supports and does not undermine innovation, but in the area of plant science, EU regulations are acting as barriers to innovation, particularly when these are based on a hazard, rather than risk-based, approach."
McIntyre praised the UK Government's new strategy for Agri-Tech, which aims to make the UK a world leader in agricultural technology, innovation and sustainability: "The Government is investing £70 million in an Agri-Tech Catalyst to help accelerate the commercialisation of agricultural research and a further £90 million over five years to establish a small number of Centres for Agricultural Innovation to support advances in sustainable intensification."